Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

Happy Wednesday, friends! It's time for some real mom confessions and, boy oh boy, have I had some flops this week.

1. Food fail. My man's favorite donut is the apple fritter so when I saw apple fritter bread on Pinterest I designed a whole brinner around it. I wore my cute apron while I whipped it up. Just call me Betty Crocker.



Except don't. Because apparently I tried taking it out of the bread pan too soon and my heavenly smelling loaf turned into a mess. My visions of being the amazing wife tanked so I just canned making the cream cheese topping, broke the rest of it up, and put it in a bowl, presenting it as a "bread side" to eat with a fork. At least it tasted good.

2. Bad school mom. Yes, I said it. School may be out but that doesn't mean there isn't signing to be done. At our children's elementary school they are doing a summer reading program (that I love) in combination with the community library. Apparently Grace had her reading log in a folder that I cleared out. For her to have the same type of reading log as my daughter going into second grade would be entirely too easy so I couldn't make a copy of Hannah's. Commence the tears of my very type A child. Insert me wondering how I could fail at a school thing in the summer. Now you have a visual of what happened in my house. I called the school and confessed my error + told a friend. They all gave me copies and you better believe I ask Grace and happily sign each day.

3. Elementary school library craft screw up. The libraries in our city are really awesome. In addition to great books, they have awesome programming that draws students in. Today they had a superhero craft. Grace and Hannah worked well on their own, but Ava needed a little assistance. When we finished, I was feeling really good about it until the following conversation goes down:

Grace: Mom, you did Superman's face wrong. (She starts laughing).
Me: No I didn't.
Grace: Yes you did. His eyebrows are below his eyes.


Sure enough, she's right. Note the correctly made Superman behind.

I grabbed the red sharpie and gave Superman a smile. Does Superman smile or is he all business? I'm not even sure because I have three very girly girls and, honestly, Superman was the only one of the three superheroes that I recognized. I'd be better with Barbie.

Me: There. Now they're his raised cheekbones from his happy smile.
Grace laughed so hard it made me laugh. Yay for messed up projects. Sometimes they make for more fun memories and than the ones done right.

And speaking of laughter....

4. Checking out. With the exception of taking my kids to the library and pretending to be the principal when the kids were playing school, I read pretty much all day today. My friend dropped off Jim Gaffigan's book and my house productivity halted to zero. Thankfully neighbor kids wanted to play or I would have had to remind my kids that self sufficiency is a real thing.



If you haven't read this book you need to. And if you don't like it I'm not sure we can be friends. Kidding. I laughed so hard I cried multiple times. Like, I'm counting it an abdominal workout. The underlying reminder that none of us parents really have a clue what we are doing and that all our kids embarrass and exhaust us in a myriad of ways will totally make you feel better about the job you are doing. This gig is tough, but so worth it!

Thank you for visiting! Please take a moment to Subscribe to Fill My Cup by Email and have every post delivered to your inbox. Pin It

Monday, May 25, 2015

Fighting to Put the Break Back in Summer



Google “Are kids too busy in the summer?” and you will find a case of polar opposite search results. Many hits will claim we’ve created a group of over-anxious, over busy little people. The others will tell you how to keep your kids busy on a limited budget. The underlying commonality is parental drive to keep children on the go.

As the parent of three girls nine and under I will admit that I enter summer break with equal parts excitement and trepidation. Saying goodbye to alarm clocks and hello to anytime of the day trips to the park, pool, zoo, etc. promises a freedom I long for. Welcoming all day every day family togetherness? Well, any honest parent would admit that requires some extra prayer.

However, it seems our fears that familial peace will prevail combined with our culturally driven message that busy equals better has taken the break right out of summer.

Recently I heard a parent say she wanted her middle elementary daughter to “make some decisions so that she can focus on one thing and excel at it.” My brain waffled with how we ask children who still need reminder to brush their teeth at night to identify their talent that will win them high school letters and college scholarships. The pressure to determine their stand-out gift (under the assumption that they possess one) without falling behind seems to mean activity rigor fresh out of the womb that steals opportunity to simply have fun. Beyond that, it means slave driving success when they have the chance to “get ahead” because they aren’t in school all day.

And it’s more than sports because I’ve received all the pamphlets on church camps, arts camps, academic camps, and the like. Whether the gift is evangelism to be the next Mother Teresa, or painting to be the next Van Gogh, or poetics to produce the next Shel Silverstein, opportunities rain plentiful.

“The experiences we thought kids had to have before high school has moved down to junior high and now elementary. Soon we’ll be talking about leadership opportunities for toddlers.” William Doherty, professor of family studies and director of the marriage and family program at the University of Minnesota, said on interview. 

Now, before you assume I’m some extremist, anti-camp and opportunity, let me assure you that I’m not. Our girls will go to vacation bible school. They will take swimming lessons. They will come to mother-daughter dance class. One will attend her first volleyball camp and one is going to put on her running shoes and blaze down the track. I’m happily penning these opportunities onto our summer calendar because I’m in complete agreement with Alvin Rosenfeld that, “Enrichment activities are perfect. They add a lot to kids’ lives.” I just also agree with his assessment that, “we’ve lost the ability to balance them with down time, boring time.” 

There is need to let our kids be kids. To run through sprinklers and build forts and pick dandelions. They need breathability in their life to decide if they want to shoot hoops in the driveway or go to the library event or see if the swift fox is actually out of his hole at the zoo. They should be able to hang upside down on the couch and read or sit right side up and play a game. They ought to make messes with paint and get smelly in the yard. In the words of clinical psychologist Paula Bloom, “Kids need to know they're not defined by what they do. They need time to play, experiment, rest and figure out who they are.” Furthermore, they need to learn how to make good choices in the midst of free time so they don't make regrettable ones when life offers them unstructured time down the road.

There is a fine line between...

To finish the post please visit MODSquad 



Thank you for visiting! Please take a moment to Subscribe to Fill My Cup by Email and have every post delivered to your inbox. Pin It

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

Y'all, I made it! The end of school marathon is complete and the beginning of summer is officially here. Added bonus? I'm feeling better so my thinking brain returned. This has meant substantive posts on beautiful nurse qualities and Human Barbie/female body image issues for you and efficient mother-daughter dance class planning for me. I cannot wait to get started with my summer classes. The toddler/mommy class - new to the mother/daughter line - is turning out to be even more special in planned conversation than I imagined possible and that crafts are going to be oh so cute!

The transition to summer always brings with it a little crazy, making for some humorous real mom confessions.

1. The end of year school paper excess always suffocates my home and brings out the batty in me. Can anyone relate? The piles of papers and excess of items that somehow fit into their backpacks leave me a mixed bag of annoyed and impressed. As items started overtaking my dining room table, I turned into crazy mom and decided that every room was going to need to be reorganized. I started with my laundry room since I spend an obnoxious amount of time. Friends, it is glorious in there! Sometimes I open the door just to admire my work.

2. "Don't dance on tables." We celebrated end of school success with friends at CherryBerry and my husband had to say this aloud to our baby-est. I love that she loves to dance, but let's hope that this is the last time we are advising this way. It's just not good. Especially for a healthy relationships author.

3.  HyVee fuel saver excitement made me realize how old I was. You guys, I love a good deal. So, when we went from low fuel light to full for



$2.28 I geeked with joy. 

4. Bathroom stamina. Yep, you read that right. The other night at dinner #2 had much to share. Tired, I said, "Honey, do you ever get exhausted listening to your own voice?" I know. That's not going to win me any parenting awards, but, whatever man. And she responds, "No, but I do have bathroom stamina." My man and I looked at each other in complete confusion because, how does one respond to that?, and all 5 of us burst into laughter. "What is bathroom stamina?," I dared ask. "Does it mean you can sit on the toilet for a long time?" I know, classy dinner table talk. She laughs and says, "No, mom and dad, we work on it at school." Now I'm utterly confused and at a loss for words so Charlie takes over. "And what exactly do you do?," he prods. "Bathroom stamina is during daily 5 where you hold it because you've already gone to the bathroom and you stack up your stamina real tall to learn, which gives me more things from school to tell you about." {For the record, their teacher did let them go if they really needed to.}  

There you have it, build up your bathroom stamina and life will afford you more learning opportunity to share with others :)


Thank you for visiting! Please take a moment to Subscribe to Fill My Cup by Email and have every post delivered to your inbox. Pin It

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Girls, Let's Talk About Human Barbie

When the photo crossed my twitter stream I assumed it was the next Barbie ad. Until I noticed the word Human in front. My eyes did a double take as my brain tried to comprehend the freakishly Barbie-like image before me being an actual human being that walks and talks. I tried to erase the picture from my brain but it kept eating at me, luring me back and irritating me more with each view.

Until that moment I had no idea there were people with life ambition to look like a plastic doll.  I knew some argue that Barbie creates an unhealthy visual of form perfection – some points of which are valid – and, to that, parents must decide for themselves if they are comfortable with Barbie play in their home. 

We are. In our experience, our girls have used Barbie play to practice processing the world. They have Barbie weddings. Their Barbies go to school and church. Their Barbies learn and live like we dream for our girls. I know this because we’ve logged many hours playing right along with them.

But to be an adult, capable of influence, and send the message that looking like Barbie is a worthy use of one’s life emulating true beauty makes me want to vomit. I have three girls. We do not even own in scale because I want them to take care of the one body God gave them – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – NOT define themselves by a number reflecting back at them.  They are each built extremely different. They are all extremely beautiful.

My annoyance led me to research Miss Valeria Lukyanova, aka Human Barbie. It’s believed that Barbie as a human would be 38-18-34. Miss Lukaynova has exceeded in boobs and reduced in the hips, measuring 39-18-33.  My first thought was this lady’s back must really hurt and then I wondered what size is an 18” waist? It is an 18 MONTH waist line, people! According to standard sizes 2T has a 20” waist and store measurements from LL Bean, Gymboree, Kohl’s, etc. confirmed it to be true.   

Girls, if you saw these pictures and thought her perky chest and mini abs were cute let’s think a little bit more about this. Can you imagine that big of a top next to your baby sister’s PJ bottoms? They say Barbie in real life would not menstruate. It makes a world of sense. Getting one’s period is a sign of health (not just the gateway to having babies) and there is nothing healthy about an adult with that structure. Beyond that, Miss Lukyanova has said in interview that she would like to exist “on air and light alone.” Not gonna happen, honey. We were created with need for liquid and solid sustenance. To avoid nourishment is red flag of anorexia, a serious eating disorder that claims lives. You’re worth more than that, girls, and the people who love you want more for you.

To think that we are the sum of our parts minimizes our value and, I believe, takes credit from good boys/men of character out there.  They want know that you have a brain and can contribute something of value to their life.  Tiny short shorts that reveal all the things and a look alike image are not going to make you the type of girl/woman he wants on his arm.  Leave a little mystery in a functional body capable of changing the world with your uniqueness? Now we’re talking. 

I’m doubting you’re going to see a lot of Valeria Lukyanova’s in school wax museums.  When you’re crowning achievement is hair dye, surgery, and starvation to look like an item in a toy aisle there is a problem. A problem that honestly makes me sad for her despite my infuriation. 

Girls, you were created by a God who loves you so much He gave you your own look and individual talents and powerful abilities.



Just be you. Be something special.

Thank you for visiting! Please take a moment to Subscribe to Fill My Cup by Email and have every post delivered to your inbox.

Pin It

Thursday, May 14, 2015

5 Lessons I Learned from My Nurse Mom {A Tribute to Her in Retirement}

I don’t remember how old I was when we happened upon the accident. I remember a man in a field. And blood. Lots of blood. My mom called out to me for a blanket & I delivered an ugly brown one quickly soaked red. Mostly I remember my totally calm mom, huddled over the man, saying, “Keep talking to me.”

It was decades later that I was traveling with a family of my own when we happened upon an upturned vehicle in the ditch. What was intended to be a simple stop to make sure they had a cell to call 911 ended in my doing CPR in a snowy ditch and saying to the bleeding man next to me, “Keep talking to me.” 

I was my mom except the total opposite. Where she exuded serenity, I cried anxious tears over a chest as I counted out compressions.

Aside from mother, my mom wore the title “nurse.” Her training was her way of living and it colored everything she did, influencing me along the way.

Always observant she soaks in her surroundings like a sponge. Details that may seem little to some are magnified in her world because she knows the smallest change could be indicative of big consequence.  I was taught that there was more to life than meets the eye and that awareness will preserve people, relationships, and situations.

This combined with empathy made her attractive to talk to. I’m sure it did at the bedside but I saw it more in my home, when she would talk me through mean-girl issues and hold me through stressful cheerleading auditions and assure me that my thoughts mattered. With a listening ear and focused eyes, presence in any situation came natural to her and, because of that, she won the hearts of my friends too. She was “the one” to talk to and be with.

Her time, although busy, came without ever making you feel like you disrupted her life. I suppose her work taught her to partition needs with confidence that all would get done. And somehow it did.

But, underneath her patient, assessing exterior lied a constant fighter. No matter what situation came her way she took what may have felt stressful on the inside and transformed it into powerful decision making to keep working for the next moment. The next physical breath for that man on the road. The spiritual breath in ours. 

When my dad left our side for Glory my brother and I watched our grieving mother with question marks on a future. How do you go forward when the life you know changes in an instant? She answered. In the mess of the raw emotions she believed and gently expressed God still having plans for us. We cried with hope. She went back to work full time for the first time in years.  She opened her broken, fearful heart to love once more and, through her grace, showed us how to do the same. Fight in the form of impassioned quiet gave way to new pulse in this life.

Because ultimately this life is about more than just us.  We are one piece of an earthly God-created puzzle.

My mom has lived a life glowing of service. She went into nursing because she loved people and was intrigued by science.  She would hold the shaking mom through labor, rock the ill child, push pain meds for the weak, hold the hand of the loved one saying “goodbye” and even stop on the road because she knew doing unto others without reserve would create a radically blessed life in the midst of the ups and the downs.

My mom is an extension of God’s hand in more ways that I can put into words.  When we left that scene in my childhood I realized she was an everyday hero. Special not only to me but to a watching world. 

This month she hung up the stethoscope to take on a new title, “retiree.” I’m grateful for the added time this will give her and I.  The trips with her husband and girlfriend time gained.  The added babysitting she can now take on. :)

Most of all, though, I’m thankful for who her career helped me to become.  We don’t stand alone.  All of us are influenced by the tide. Nurse is a title I never claimed but the skill sets notable to her field have inspired me to care deeply, listen carefully, nurture hearts, and live for Christ as a blessing to the other in my own work and volunteerism.



Happy retirement, mom! You are a blessing.

xo Melissa

Thank you for visiting! Please take a moment to Subscribe to Fill My Cup by Email and have every post delivered to your inbox. Pin It

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

It's Wednesday and we're back with more Real Mom Confessions!  I promise to get back to some inspiring posts in the mix but this has been a crazy few weeks of asthma issues + lots going on with my children's school and activities.  When I can crash, I do!

1. PTA Mom. Speaking of school, I realized I may have crossed the line from normal PTA mom to crazy PTA mom when I actually chose my hair style around a PTA activity. It's true. We've been stuffing popcorn bags for our Circus themed year end party this Friday and I chose a ponytail because of it. Crazy, smart, or a mix of both? Don't answer that :) I'll just go with dedicated.

2. OCD.  I might have a little case of OCD surrounding closets. I like matching hangers facing the same direction and the clothes to go in order of least material (hung tank tops) to most (sweatshirts).



Yesterday my daughter got a whole bag of amazing clothes from a friend and as we were hanging them up I reorganized her closet to fit this pattern in hopes that someday someone in my house will care. I think it's a losing battle, but I tell you, you can find the clothes you are looking for a whole lot faster if you do things this way. Just sayin.'

3.  Growing Up.  We hit a new milestone. I had to stand on a kid stool to be tall enough to do my third grader's hair for the dance recital.  My hubby thought it was hilarious and snapped a picture to text to some family. Wasn't that sweet :)



She's going to top me by fourth grade, I just know it.  On the upside, the hair turned out great and we had a date night at the dance recital watching all three of our littles.



Watching them on stage is so much fun!

4.  The earthy grade.  Speaking of growing, today my children visit their teacher matches for the 2015-2016 school year.  I'm not going to lie, I'm already having some anxiety over second grade, which I affectionately refer to as the "earthy grade." Their field trips are so outdoorsy and I'm more of what Jim Gaffigan refers to as "indoorsy."  (Watch this and you can count it your abdominal exercise for the day because it will make you laugh so hard.) My friend gave me this magnet yesterday and it totally epitomizes me.



What do people have against indoor field trips?! I'm anti communing with bugs.

I hope all is going well in your house this week. For the parents reading this, my heart is with you. These last few weeks of school are a marathon until the end. You can do it!  Summer - and bugs - are almost here :)

xx Melissa

Thank you for visiting! Please take a moment to Subscribe to Fill My Cup by Email and have every post delivered to your inbox. Pin It

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

It's Wednesday! Time to lighten the mood with Anna's real mom confessions link up, reminding us that we are all on this parenting journey together.

1. Breakfast. I realize that my children should ideally eat all sorts of well balanced meals to get their brains working in the morning, but sometimes you just go with it.  Ava wanted hot dog buns with ketchup and mustard (nothing else) the other day and I thought it was a mighty resourceful way to finish out the remaining buns so I obliged.



Who else things of Steve Martin's Father of the Bride freak out moment every time you buy hot dog buns? And why haven't they figured out to package the same quantities yet????

2. The birds and the bees.  My kids are obsessed with the "Jake from State Farm" commercials. Obsessed. They are constantly acting it out and one even brought it up to the principal when she was wearing khakis. Good thing we have an awesome principal who plays along with these kinds of things. So, the other night at the dinner table Hannah asks us if we are going to have more babies. My man and I tell her that God has given us a complete family and she says, "You might not know because on the new Jake from State Farm commercial the husband says he is done and then the wife says, 'too late.'"  Thank you, State Farm, for planting these questions. We said God is sometimes a God of surprises and moved right along. 

3. PTSD.  It is teacher appreciation week and, as you all know, I love teachers. Their presence in my life makes me a better parent.  Each day of this week parents donate yummy eats for the staff and I signed up for muffins, bringing back vivid memories from last year when I followed HGTV's suggestion of just shoving dishes/containers in the oven before people come to your house as a quick clean. It's all fine and dandy unless you forget you did it and open up your oven to a plastic mess that "looks like Elsa's castle," according to the children. Nothing burned this year and the peanut butter chocolate chip and double chocolate chip recipes turned out awesome but I did make my husband go through the batter spoonful by spoonful with me because I saw a tiny piece of egg shell fall in and my pride was at stake.  Egg shell found.  Muffin success.

4. The field trip mom. I'm just back from driving on a field trip and, you guys, I was that mom. You know, the one that sounds totally old fashioned before even getting in the car. I actually said, "Let's be our best versions of ourselves" before the van door was even opened.  Boys and girls are very different in third grade. I also found out that in pioneer times, "if you were really fancy you didn't have to bathroom in a bucket. You had a ceramic 'thunder pot.'"  Oh, how our perspective of "fancy" has changed and thank you Jesus that I was born when I was. 

What happened in your house this week?



Thank you for visiting! Please take a moment to Subscribe to Fill My Cup by Email and have every post delivered to your inbox. Pin It